Sunday, March 31, 2013

Dijon-Rosemary Crusted Rack of Lamb

We decided to spend Easter weekend in Austin again this year.  We enjoy the wealth of activities available in Austin at this time of year since the weather is usually wonderful and this has been true for this year as well.   On Friday afternoon, we walked around Zilker Park along Lady Bird Lake which was beautiful and very entertaining for people watching. 

I decided to stay away from ham for Easter this year since I think the meat is a little more processed than we should be eating right now on our healthy eating plan.  I turned to another typical spring meat, lamb.  I rubbed two racks of lamb with a paste of mustard, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper and allowed them to marinate in the refrigerator for about 6 hours.  They went into a hot oven for 4 minutes and then the heat was reduced and they were allowed to roast for another 15 minutes.  They came out cooked perfectly. 

Our side dishes were pureed cauliflower and turnips, and roasted asparagus and carrots.  We finished off our meal with a mixed berry medley topped with whipped coconut milk slightly sweetened with Xylitol and flavored with vanilla extract. 

Dijon-Rosemary Crusted Rack of Lamb
Makes 4 servings

1/4 cup Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons dried rosemary, crushed in mortar
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
2 racks of lamb
2 teaspoons olive oil

Combine mustard, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper into a paste and smear to cover rack of lamb completely.  Let sit for 4 to 24 hours in refrigerator to let the flavors marry.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Place rack of lamb in a 12" x 8" x 2" baking dish coated with olive oil.  Roast uncovered for 4 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 15 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted in rack registers 160 degrees.

Slightly adapted from The Virgin Diet Cookbook

Our rating:


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Pepper Steak

When we were first married, I used to make this dish every once in a while and it's something I haven't thought about in a long time.  I bought a grass-fed organic strip steak for the meat and red peppers and onions are certainly on our list of healthy vegetables.  I did have to make some substitutions since we cannot have soy sauce, cornstarch or vegetable oil, but the dish turned out beautifully.  There is nothing like a speedy stir fry for a quick meal.  I served this over brown rice.

Our menu for the day:
Breakfast - Protein Shake
Lunch - Leftover Quail and roasted veggies

Pepper Steak
Makes 4 servings

12 ounces top round beef, trimmed to 1/8" fat (I used grass-fed organic strip steak)
4 teaspoons plus 3 tablespoons soy sauce (I used coconut aminos)
1 tablespoon rice wine
3 teaspoons cornstarch (I used brown rice flour)
5 teaspoons olive oil
1 large onion, sliced into thin strips
1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Slice the meat into small thin slices.  Combine the 4 teaspoons coconut aminos, 1 tablespoon rice wine, 1 teaspoon brown rice flour and black pepper in a bowl.  Add the meat and stir to combine.

In a small bowl, mix 3 tablespoons coconut aminos, 1 tablespoon water and 2 teaspoons brown rice flour.  Set aside.

Heat the wok on high heat.  Swirl in 1 tablespoon oil and add the beef spreading evenly in the wok.  Cook undisturbed for 20 seconds letting the beef brown.  Using a spatula, stir meat, cooking another 2 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.

Add remaining 2 teaspoons of oil to wok, add peppers and onions and cook about 2 minutes.  Return beef to the wok, add the sauce and red pepper flakes and stir fry about 30 seconds until slightly thickened.

Recipe adapted from Skinnytaste

Our rating:

Friday, March 29, 2013

Grilled Texas Quail

Since I am such a fan of a roast chicken, I decided we needed to try quail which really looks just like a miniature chicken (tastes like it, too).  These are the perfect one-person portion size.  These little birds were marinated and then quickly grilled outside.  They only take about 4 to 5 minutes per side.  I happened to find fresh quail at Central Market and I think some specialty grocery stores may carry them frozen.  Our side dish was a combination of oven roasted sweet potatoes, carrots, golden beets and Brussels sprouts.

Our menu for the day:
Breakfast - Protein shake
Lunch - Rice bowl with brown rice, sauteed onion, red and green peppers, mushrooms, fresh ginger and garlic with chicken

Grilled Texas quail
Makes 4 servings

4 semi-boneless Texas quail
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 to 3 sprigs fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons dried coriander

In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, garlic, cilantro, thyme, rosemary and oregano.  Pour over the quail and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

Remove from the refrigerator and sprinkle with coriander on both sides.  Grill on high heat until done, about 4 to 5 minutes per side.

Slightly adapted from Food Network

Our rating:

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Bison Burgers

On this new eating plan, we have been looking forward to experimenting with some of the more unusual meats that seem to becoming more common.  Any game or any meat that has not been mass-produced is what we are aiming for.  So this week, we tried ground bison instead of ground beef to make some hamburger patties.  We loved the taste and texture of this meat and are looking forward to using it more frequently instead of ground beef.  Our sides were Sweet Potato Fries and Green Beans with Mushrooms.

Bison Burgers
Makes 4 burgers

1 pound ground bison
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Place ground bison in a bowl.  Add seasonings and mix gently using your hands.  Divide equally and form into 4 patties.  Cook on a preheated grill with oiled grates for about 4 minutes per side.

Our rating:

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Split Pea Soup

There is nothing better than a rich and hearty soup on a cold and blustery day.  Our weather here in the Dallas area has been unusually cold and windy lately.  This soup is one of Gerry's favorites but it is not one that I grew up with for some reason.  I must admit I am now a huge fan of it.  It has a handful of simple ingredients along with some dried split peas and a ham hock (or shank).  Let it simmer for about an hour and you get a heavenly soup.

Our menu for the day:
Breakfast - Protein Shake
Lunch - Turkey Wrap (Organic roasted turkey slices, tomato and avocado slices with grainy Dijon mustard in a lettuce leaf), apple slices with almond butter

Split Pea Soup
Makes 4-6 servings

1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
1 pound split peas, rinsed and picked through
1 pound smoked ham hock
2 quarts chicken stock, water, or combination (I used chicken stock)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large saucepan, saute onion, celery and carrots over medium-high heat.  Add peas and ham hock and cover with stock by a couple of inches.  Bring to a simmer and cook about 1 hour until soup is thick and peas have almost disintegrated but not quite.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Remove ham hock and let cool slightly.  Pull meat from ham hock bone and shred.  Garnish with ham and pepper.

Slightly adapted from Food Network

Our rating:

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Herb-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin Roast

Pork tenderloin was the focus for dinner tonight.  Since I find pork to be quite lean and mild of flavor, the boost of an herb blend was a great way to spice it up.  I combined a bunch of herbs in the blender and then used some of this mixture to rub inside the cut open tenderloin.  I rolled it back up and tied it together and rubbed the remaining herb blend on the outside.  It roasted in the oven to its degree of doneness.  When cut, there is the lovely bit of green showing in the middle of each slice.  Our sides were Tuscan White Beans and Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage.

Our menu for the day:
Breakfast - Protein Shake
Lunch - Leftover Herb-Crusted Chicken Breasts, Roasted Butternut Squash and Squash Medley

Herb-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin Roast
Makes 4 servings

1/2 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon sage
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds organic pork tenderloin roast

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine all ingredients except pork tenderloin in a blender or food processor to create herb blend.

Open pork roast and rub 1/3 herb blend inside.  Wrap back up, tie with cooking string and place in roasting pan.

Rub remaining herb blend on the outside of the roast.

Roast for approximately 35 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 150 to 160 degrees.

Slightly adapted from The Virgin Diet

 Our rating:


Friday, March 22, 2013

Sweet Potato Fries

We turned to a very easy classic for dinner tonight, a grilled steak, sauteed mushrooms, sauteed spinach with slivers of garlic and sweet potato fries.  We grilled some New York Strips seasoned with Montreal Steak Seasoning since it was a beautiful day for outdoor grilling.  Since white potatoes are not recommended on our eating plan at the moment, I turned to sweet potatoes and decided to make fries which turned out great.  While the fries were baking in the oven, I sauteed the mushrooms and at the last minute I sauteed the spinach with the garlic.

Our menu for the day:
Breakfast - Protein Shake
Lunch - leftover Bolognese 

Sweet Potato Fries
Makes 2 servings

1 washed, skin-on, medium sweet potato, cut into 1/2" x 1 1/2" strips
3/4 tablespoon coconut or palm fruit oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a bowl, toss the sweet potatoes, oil, sea salt and paprika.

Place strips on a greased baking sheet and bake for 20 to 28 minutes, depending on consistency desired.  Flip or toss the fries about every 5 to 6 minutes to cook evenly.

Slightly adapted from The Virgin Diet

Our rating:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Herb-Crusted Chicken Breasts

I know I've recently mentioned how much I love the versatility of chicken and once again tonight's recipe brings that point home.  I made a paste of garlic and fresh herbs with olive oil, spread it on chicken breast halves and let it marinate overnight in the refrigerator.  Then 20 minutes before dinner, I preheated my oven, seared the chicken breasts in a hot skillet on one side.  Once I flipped them, I simply put the skillet in the oven and let them cook through.  With the exception of marinating the chicken overnight, this entree cooks in a flash.  This method of pan sauteeing and finishing in the oven can also be used for fish, turkey breasts and steak.  Our sides were roasted butternut squash and summer squash medley.

Our menu for the day:
Breakfast - Protein Shake
Lunch - Spicy Beef Lettuce Wraps

Herb-Crusted Chicken Breasts
Makes 4 servings

2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh basil
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons olive, palm fruit, or coconut oil

Combine herbs, olive oil, salt and pepper in a food processor until it becomes a paste.

Spread paste on chicken breasts and cover in refrigerator overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat a saute pan or skillet to medium heat and put oil in the pan.  When pan or skillet is hot, place chicken breasts in pan just long enough to turn the outside golden brown, then flip over and move entire pan into the oven to finish cooking, about 8 to 12 minutes.  (If your pan isn't oven-resistant, preheat a cookie sheet or roasting pan and transfer chicken breasts to it.)  Chicken breasts are done when they are firm to touch and if, when pierced or sliced, their juice runs clear.

Slightly adapted from The Virgin Diet

My rating:


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Turkey Bolognese over Quinoa Pasta

I love Bolognese sauce, even if it's not a traditional recipe requiring a full day of slow simmering.  I am perfectly happy to embrace a quick cooking version full of Italian flavors.  This one included no cream or cheese but was so full of flavor, we didn't miss either of these ingredients.  This was my first experience with cooking Quinoa pasta and this, too, was a surprise.  I could barely tell the difference and the quinoa is so much better for you.

Our menu for the day:
Breakfast - Protein Shake
Lunch - Brown rice bowl with chicken, sauteed onion, red pepper and mushrooms

Turkey Bolognese over Quinoa Pasta
Makes 4 servings

Sea salt, divided
1 (8 ounce) package quinoa pasta
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 small white onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound organic ground turkey
1 jar organic crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup organic chicken stock
1/4 cup organic tomato paste
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Fill a large pot with water and cover.  Heat on high to develop a rolling boil.  Season the water with a good pinch of sea salt.  When the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente, following package directions.  Strain pasta and put back in the pot.  Drizzle the hot pasta with 1 teaspoon olive oil and mix to keep the pasta from sticking to itself.

While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil on medium heat in a large pan.  Add the onions and garlic and sweat until translucent.  Add the turkey and brown, breaking the meat up into small pieces as it browns.  Add the remaining ingredients except the bail and mix well.  Bring to a gentle simmer and allow to reduce about 30 minutes.  After reducing, add the basil.  Season lightly with sea salt and pepper to taste.  Toss the cooked pasta in the sauce and allow to warm together for a couple of minutes.

This sauce works well with almost any kind of ground meat.

Slightly adapted from The Virgin Diet

Our rating:

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tuna Salad

I'm sure you are wondering about the title of this post....doesn't everyone make tuna salad with mayonnaise and whatever little crunchy bits you like to toss in?  I decided to try a more Mediterranean twist with it by adding some kalamata olives, capers, a little red onion and tossing it with a lemony vinaigrette.  I served it in a tomato cup on a bed of baby lettuces and added some cubed avocado.  This was a delightful twist on an old favorite.

Mediterranean Tuna Salad
Makes 2 servings

1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

6 ounce can wild-caught light tuna (I used skipjack)
Kalamata olives, halved
2 teaspoons capers, drained
2 tablespoons red onion, diced
2 cups mixed baby greens
1/2 avocado, cubed

Prepare vinaigrette by combining lemon juice, white wine vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper.  Whisk everything together or place everything in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake well.  Set aside.

Drain tuna and break into chunks in a bowl.  Add as many halved kalamata olives as desired, along with capers and onion.  Add enough of the dressing to moisten the tuna and mix all ingredients gently.

For the tomatoes:  Remove the stem from the tomato and then place it stem side down.  Cut through tomato stopping about 1/2 from the bottom.  Make another cut again almost through the bottom (so now it will look like you would have 4 wedges if you had cut all the way through).  Make two more cuts, rotating tomato until you have what would be 8 wedges if they were separated.  Gently spread tomato open to form a cup for the salad.  Sprinkle tomato with salt and pepper.

Dress the greens with some of the vinaigrette.

To assemble the salad:
Place the dressed greens on the serving plate.  Place the tomato flower/cup on the greens and divide the tuna mixture between the two tomatoes.  Scatter the cubed avocado around the greens.

Our rating:

Monday, March 18, 2013

Pan-Seared Salmon

Salmon is such a power-packed protein and we are lucky to both love it.  In this case, I seasoned it with a little ground cumin, coriander and salt and pepper.  I then pan seared the fillets in coconut oil until done.  I simply served them over lentils and our side was oven roasted broccoli and cauliflower.

Here was our menu for the day.

Breakfast - a shake made with sugar free chocolate coconut milk, vegan hemp protein powder and a tablespoon of almond butter with a few ice cubes.  It was a nice change from the berry shakes.

Lunch was a tuna salad plate - I'll post this recipe another day since it was so good.

Pan-Seared Salmon Fillets
Makes 2 servings

2 (4-6 ounce) wild salmon fillets (I used sockeye)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat skillet while seasoning fillets.  Heat oil and place fillets skin-side down in hot skillet.  Saute for 5-6 minutes depending on thickness of fillet.  Turn fillets flesh side down and cook for another minute or two to finish cooking through.

Our rating:

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Halibut a la Tunisia

I love halibut and really enjoyed this flavorful preparation of it.  This was a really easy and quick meal to get on the table.  The only thing to remember is that it does require 1 hour for marinating.  Then it goes on the grill for no longer than 8 minutes and it's done.

Our side dishes were quinoa and roasted Brussels sprouts.

Halibut a la Tunisia
Makes 2 servings

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 halibut fillets, about 6 ounces each (1-inch thick)
Extra virgin olive oil

To make the paste:  in a small bowl, thoroughly mix the paste ingredients.

Spread the paste evenly on all sides of the halibut.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 1 hour.

Grill over high heat until the halibut just begins to flake when you poke it with the tip of a knife, 6 to 8 minutes, turning once.  Remove from the grill, drizzle each fillet with about 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil.  Serve immediately.

Slightly adapted from Weber's Real Grilling

Our rating:

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Turkey Cutlets

Turkey cutlets are easy to cut from a turkey breast tenderloin.  I simply cut the tenderloin in two pieces and pounded them thin between plastic wrap.  I then dredged them in coconut flour and sprinkled them with a combination of paprika, ground cumin and cinnamon and as always seasoned with salt and pepper.  I pan sauteed these in red palm fruit oil which gave it a lovely red hue.  All the flavors in this worked together really well.  I'm sure we will be having this often.

Our side dishes for dinner were pan fried sweet potato cubes with just a hint of cinnamon and steamed green beans.

Here is what the menu looked like for today:

Breakfast - a fruit shake

Lunch - salad plate with chicken, garbanzo beans, red pepper, red onion, walnuts and a simple vinaigrette

Turkey Cutlets
Makes 2 servings

1 turkey tenderloin (1/2 to 3/4 pound)
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Red palm oil (or olive oil)

Cut tenderloin in half and pound each half between plastic wrap until 1/8-1/4-inch thick.  Combine paprika, cumin, cinnamon and salt and pepper.  Dredge cutlets in flour and sprinkle on both sides with spices.

Melt red palm oil in hot skillet and brown seasoned cutlets on both sides until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes per side.

Our rating:

Friday, March 15, 2013

Grilled Lamb Chops

Every once in a while I feel like I need to fine-tune our eating habits.  Since I make so much of our food, I always feel like we eat quite healthy...but there's always room for improvement.  Gerry periodically  turns to a fast to relieve some digestive issues.  I have been wanting to try a gluten free diet for a while now and we have found a different approach to testing food intolerances.  We have given up corn, dairy, eggs, gluten, peanuts, soy and sugar/artificial sweeteners.  Even though this list of what we have given up sounds quite lengthy, we both feel that we are eating well and have not had any cravings.  We will continue on this plan for three weeks and then gradually add back one food component to see if there is any intolerance.

Each day starts with a protein shake made with a vegan rice protein powder, coconut milk and some frozen organic berries.  I add some fiber with either chia seeds or ground flax seeds.  We later move on to a cup of regular coffee (no sugar or cream) and this holds us until lunch.

Our lunch today was the Salmon and Blueberry Salad that I made recently minus the feta cheese.  I did add some toasted, slivered almonds for a little crunch.  An apple was the perfect finish.

Our dinner was grilled lamb chops with garlic and rosemary, white beans scented with rosemary and a kale salad, all of which was yummy.

Grilled Lamb Chops
Makes 2 servings

4 organic lamb rib chops
Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

Preheat grill to medium high heat.  Drizzle lamb chops with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and press some garlic and chopped rosemary to each side of the ribs.  Grill about 5 to 6 minutes per side for medium.  Allow to rest for a few minutes before serving.

Our rating:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Game Hens with Orange Marsala Sauce

I love the perfect serving size of a Cornish game hen - split it in half and it is the perfect serving for two people.  I took a hen and cut the backbone out of it.  I then split it in half through the breast and it gave me the perfect serving size.  I spread a compound butter under the skin which added a great layer of flavor.  I also drizzled the outside of the hen halves with a little olive oil and seasonsed with salt and pepper before searing them.  Once they were golden brown, I flipped them over and finished them in the oven.  Once done, I let them rest while I prepared the orange marsala sauce in the same skillet.  I served these with potato salad and carrots.

Game Hens with Orange Marsala Sauce
Makes 2 servings

For the compound butter
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon minced fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon orange zest, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

1 Cornish game hen, thawed
Salt and pepper to taste

For the sauce:
2 slices bacon, diced
1/2 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 tablespoons dry marsala
1/4 cup chick broth
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
Zest of 1/2 of an orange
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, sliced
1/2 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Using kitchen shears, cut backbone out of hen.  Cut hen in half lengthwise through breast bone. 

Combine ingredients for the compound butter.  Place 1 tablespoon butter under skin of each hen half.  Lightly oil the outside of the hens with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Sear them, skin side down, in a large saute pan over high heat, for 5 minutes.  Flip hens, then place the pan in the oven; roast, uncovered, for 20 minutes.  Remove hens from pan and let rest, uncovered, 5-10 minutes.  (Use the same pan to make the sauce).

Drain excess oil from the pan, leaving 1/2 tablespoon.  Saute bacon over medium-high heat  in same pan.  When golden, add the garlic and saute for 1 minute more.

Deglaze with marsala; simmer until reduced to 1 tablespoon.  Add broth, juice, and zest; simmer for 5 minutes.

Off heat, whisk in the cold butter and basil.

Slightly adapted from Cuisine at Home, June 2004

My rating:

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Roasted Pear Salad with Port Vinaigrette

Pears, Port and Blue Cheese....yum!  I knew this salad would be spectacular with just those three ingredients and then came the greens, the pears were roasted with shallots and a healthy dose of walnuts added the perfect crunch.  This salad turned out to be everything I thought it would be.

Roasted Pear Salad with Port Vinaigrette
Makes 4 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 Bosc pears, halved, cored, sliced in eighths
8 shallots, peeled and halved
3/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup port wine
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup bitter salad greens
4 cups baby greens
2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons toasted walnut pieces

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Prepare the pears and shallots.  Toss them in oil, transfer to a large roasting pan, and roast in lower half of oven 15 minutes.

Meanwhile for the vinaigrette, combine vinegar, honey, port ginger, and rosemary.  Pour this syrup over the roasting pears, and return the pan to the oven; roast for 10 more minutes.  With a slotted spoon, transfer pears and shallots to a bowl; pour syrup into a measuring cup.  whisk in enough oil to make 1 1/4 cups vinaigrette, season and set aside.

Combine greens and use just enough dressing to moisten the greens (maybe 1/2 of the dressing).  Toss well and divide greens among 4 plates.  Top with pears and shallots, and drizzle with 1 tablespoon or so more vinaigrette.  Sprinkle with crumbled blue cheese and toasted walnuts.

From Cuisine at Home, October 2001

Our rating:

Monday, March 11, 2013

Curried Chard and Spinach with Chickpeas

We all know how healthy those dark green, leafy vegetables are for you, but for some reason or another, they rarely make an appearance on the dinner plate.  This meal was perfect for us since it incorporated both red chard and spinach along with chickpeas all smothered in a coconut milk based sauce with the powerful combination of fresh ginger and garlic spiced with curry powder and crushed red pepper flakes.  Even though I knew this meal was good for us, it had all the flavor elements that we love.  I served it over rice and drizzled it with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

Curried Spinach and Chard with Chickpeas
Makes 4 servings

1 cup raw basmati or other long-grain rice
10 ounces fresh spinach, stemmed, torn and rinsed
3-4 leaves red chard, stemmed torn and rinsed, stems sliced
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 cups yellow onion, chopped (about 1 medium)
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons garlic, minced (about 4 cloves)
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup coconut milk
1 can (14 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons sugar
Salt to taste
Lime wedges, for garnish

Prepare rice as package directs.  For spinach, remove and discard stem.  Remove chard stems, but do not discard.  Tear the greens into pieces, rinse, and shake off water - do not totally dry.

The celery-like stems from the chard are edible.  To prepare them, rinse and then slice into 1/2-inch thick pieces.  Keep these pieces separate from the greens  They take longer to cook and must be added earlier.

Heat oil in a large skillet or stockpot over medium-high heat.  Saute the chard stems and onion, stirring often, until softened and slightly brown, 6-8 minutes.  Add ginger, garlic, curry and red pepper flakes.  Saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Stir in the coconut milk, chickpeas, sugar and salt; simmer 2-3 minutes or until slightly thickened.  Toss prepared greens in curry sauce until wilted and cooked, 2-3 more minutes.  Serve with rice and garnish with lime wedges.

Recipe from Cuisine at Home, October 2001

Our rating:

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Cookie Dough

I love the scent of freshly baked cookies and lately I have been using one dough to make both chocolate chip and white chocolate, macadamia nut cookies.  I make the typical dough, divide it in half and stir in the appropriate chips.  I get a total of about 4 dozen cookies from this recipe; two dozen of each kind.

Chocolate Chip/White Chocolate, Macadamia Nut Cookies
Makes approximately 4 dozen

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, (6 ounces)

1 cup white chocolate pieces, (6 ounces)
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.  Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Gradually beat in flour mixture.  Divide dough in half.  Stir semi-sweet chocolate chips into one half of the dough.  Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased sheets.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

To second portion of dough, stir in which chocolate and nuts.  Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased sheets as above and follow same baking directions.

Recipe altered from Nestle Chocolate Chip Package

Our rating:

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Lemon Honey Chicken Breasts

I find it amazing the many ways you can prepare a basic protein and completely change it up.  That is what inspires me to try so many new recipes. This chicken recipe was extremely simple to prepare and pretty much cooked itself once placed in the oven.  I used bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts which are getting harder to find these days in many markets.  I had to ask the butcher for some who got it out of their back room.  It always pays to ask your butcher for help.  My sides were buttered egg noodles with a sprinkling of lemon zest and carrots.

Lemon-Honey Chicken Breasts
Makes 2 servings

2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Canola oil
1/2 teaspoon dry rosemary, crushed
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon salt
dash black pepper
2 chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all ingredients (except chicken) and mix well.  Place chicken breasts, skin side up in casserole, drizzle sauce over chicken.  Place in oven for 20 minutes, baste with sauce.  Bake for another 20 minutes.  Drizzle with sauce in pan when serving.

Recipe adapted from Jillian Michaels

Our rating:

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Summer Squash Medley

One of my favorite side dishes is this simple dish of sauteed onions, zucchini and yellow squash.  It pairs beautifully with any kind of grilled or roasted meat and simply cooked fish.  It is quick and easy to make and simply highlights the freshness of the ingredients.  I like to simply season this dish with a pinch of sugar, salt, and freshly ground pepper.

Summer Squash Medley
Makes 2-3 Servings

1/2 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1 zucchini, cut in half moons
1 yellow squash, cut in half moons
pinch of sugar (preferably turbinado or demerara)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a skillet melt butter in oil over medium heat and saute onion for a couple of minutes or until just starting to become tender.  Add the squash and sprinkle with the sugar, salt and pepper and saute until squash is tender and just starting to brown in spots.

My rating:

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Chicken with Oranges and Almonds

This dish was a snap to prepare and then pretty much cooked on its own.  There was just a couple of other things to attend to such as toasting some almond slivers in the oven and steaming some snow peas.  I love the challenge of making complicated dishes with lots of sides, but every now and then its great to site down to a meal that is a triple-play; easy to make, healthy for you and tastes delicious!

The recipe called for 2 broiler fryer chicken breasts, without skin.  My bone-in chicken breasts come with the skin on and rather than remove it, I decided to leave it on while the chicken cooked and remove it after since I think that helps to keep the meat more moist.  While in theory this method has always worked for me, but in this case I lost a lot of the seasoning that was now on the skin rather than the meat.  I would recommend removing the skin prior to cooking as the recipe directs.

Chicken with Oranges and Almonds
Makes 2 servings

2 broiler-fryer chicken breasts, without skin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
dash ground cinnamon
dash ground cloves
1 tablespoon salad oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons slivered almonds
2 tablespoons craisins
1 orange, pared and thinly sliced

Sprinkle chicken with salt pepper, cinnamon and cloves.  Heat oil in skillet; place chicken in oil and brown to a golden color.  Turn over in pan.  Put garlic, onion, orange juice and 1/2 cup of water over chicken; cover and cook at a simmer for 35 minutes.

Spread out almonds in shallow pan and place in 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes or until fragrant but just barely toasted.

Add almonds, Craisins and sliced oranges to chicken.  Cover and cook 5 minutes.

Slightly adapted from Jillian Michaels

My rating:

Monday, March 4, 2013

Salmon Salad with Blueberries

I do love a good salad on occasion, especially for lunch and I almost skipped over this recipe since it had such a variety of ingredients that I couldn't believe would blend together.  Every bite of this salad turned out to be a flavor explosion with the omega filled salmon, mixed greens, tomato pieces, the sweet bite of the blueberries, the salty bit of feta cheese, the nutty crunch of walnuts, and the creaminess of the cannellini beans.  It was all topped with a simple white wine vinaigrette which did nothing to hide the individual flavors of all the ingredients.

I will definitely be making this salad again and again.

Salmon Salad with Blueberries
Makes 2 servings

6 ounces wild-caught salmon fillet
4 cups mixed greens (I used baby mixed)
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup blueberries
1 ounce feta cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup cannellini beans, no-salt added, rinsed and dried
1/4 cup red onion, cut into 1/8-inch thick slices and separated into rings
2 tablespoons vinaigrette, made with white wine vinegar

Heat pan over medium heat.  Add salmon fillet, skin side down.  Cook approximately 5-7 minutes. flip and cook another minute or so, until fish is a light pink color.

Meanwhile mix all salad ingredients in a bowl and toss with vinaigrette.  Add salmon to salad and serve immediately.

Slightly adapted from Jillian Michaels

Our rating:

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake

Today was our eldest daughter's birthday and so Gerry and I celebrated with her.  It's great when special days fall on the weekend.  We have always had the tradition of whoever's birthday it is, that person gets to pick the menu for the entire day along with all activities for the day.  Since we sold the house and are now in the motor home, we are still trying to see what these celebrations will look like.  We celebrated at Val's house with her husband and their two beautiful children. 

We went out for lunch since that is what Val wanted to do and she chose her dinner menu a couple of days ago.  I shopped for all the ingredients and did some of the prep work before going over there today.  Her dinner choices were Flat Iron Steak with Red Wine Sauce, grilled sweet onions, grilled zucchini and yellow squash, sauteed mushrooms and mashed potatoes.  For the second year in a row she chose Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake for dessert which is seriously the easiest dessert to pull together.  It is layers of chocolate chip cookies and mascarpone/whipped cream with chocolate in between.  It is assembled in a springform pan, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated overnight, hence the name "Icebox Cake".

Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake
Makes 8 servings

2 cups cold heavy cream
12 ounces Italian mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup coffee liqueur, such as Kahlua
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 (8-ounce) packages chocolate chip cookies, such as Tate's Bake Shop (or homemade cookies)
Shaved semisweet chocolate, for garnish, if desired

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the heavy cream, mascarpone, sugar, coffee liqueur, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and vanilla.  Mix on low speed to combine and then slowly raise the speed until it forms firm peaks.

To assemble the cake, arrange chocolate chip cookies flat in an 8-inch springform pan, covering the bottom as much as possible.  (I break some cookies to fill in the spaces.)  Spread a fifth of the mocha whipped cream evenly over the cookies.  Place another layer of cookies on top lying flat and touching, followed by another fifth of the cream.  Continue layering cookies and cream until there are 5 layers of each, ending with a layer of cream.  Smooth the top, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

Run a small sharp knife around the outside of the cake and remove the sides of the pan.  Sprinkle the top with the chocolate, cut in wedges, and serve cold.

Recipe from Barefoot Contessa

Our rating:

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Caesar Salad

I love the creaminess and saltiness of a good Caesar salad dressing.  The richness and creaminess come from the egg, especially the yolk and the saltiness from anchovies.  Years ago I used to mash my anchovies with a little salt and oil and add it to a beaten egg along with garlic and lemon juice.  I whisked oil in to make a beautiful emulsion and then left the dressing on the kitchen counter for a couple of hours to let the flavors meld.  Its a wonder to me now that we ate it quite frequently and never got sick.  I would never take that chance with a raw egg these days.

I have been using this Ellie Krieger recipe for a few years now and it has all the elements of what I love in the dressing but it starts with a pasteurized egg product making it perfectly safe.  There are no kitchen appliances needed; just a bowl and a whisk.  It also comes together very quickly.

Caesar Salad
Makes 4 servings

1/4 cup pasteurized egg product (such as Egg Beaters)
1 clove garlic, minced (about 1/2 teaspoon)
1 1/2 teaspoons anchovy paste
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper
8 cups coarsely torn romaine lettuce
2 cups Croutons

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg product, garlic, anchovy paste, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice.  Slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream, whisking the whole time.  Stir in the Parmesan and season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, toss the dressing with the lettuce until well coated.  Add the croutons and toss to combine.  Divide the salad onto 4 plates shave some Parmesan slices over top.

Slightly adapted from Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger

Our rating: